Butterfield offers reasoning on Washington

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 06:41 PM

KITTRELL — U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield described the federal budget picture to a group of approximately 45 business and community leaders meeting at the Kittrell Job Corps Center on Thursday.

Butterfield said he couldn’t say what was going on in Raleigh but he could talk about Washington, where “I see it from a front row seat.”

The occasion was a meeting of the center’s Industry Council and Community Relations Council in the Underground Kafe. Students in the culinary arts program prepared and served lunch.

Butterfield said the budget process is complicated by partisanship.

“You watch the news,” said the Democrat from Wilson. “You see all the partisanship and you ask, ‘Why is it that these people can’t go into a room and figure it out?’”

He said the government is spending about $3.5 trillion a year.

“I submit that we are spending the taxpayers’ money for the most part on good things,” Butterfield said.

The problem is that revenue only adds up to $2.5 trillion.

“That means we have to borrow the difference,” Butterfield said. “We cannot continue to have the deficits we have, although the deficits are growing smaller each year.”

Butterfield said when President Barack Obama came into office, he inherited a $12 trillion debt.

“The budget was upside down,” Butterfield said. “And the economy was upside down. Over the last four years, we have tried to turn things around. At least we’re moving in the right direction.”

Butterfield described the impasse between the Republicans and Democrats that began with the debate over raising the debt ceiling in 2011 and led eventually to legislation to cut spending across the board by what is being called “sequestration.”

“We’re going to feel these cuts as we go forward,” Butterfield said. “It’s going to be very painful.”

Large cities are in a better position to absorb cuts, he said. Rural counties and small towns can’t.

Butterfield pointed out that the process of developing a budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year is under way. The Republican plan developed in the House of Representatives would devastate rural counties, he said. The Democratic plan making its way through the Senate “still has a lot to be desired, but it’s friendlier than the House plan.”

He said partisanship is so bad that “if one party — I don’t care which one — proposes raising the age to receive Medicare, by 4 that afternoon the other party is on television saying, ‘They’re trying to take away your Medicare.’ That’s why it has to be done jointly.

“The debt is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It’s an American problem.”

Butterfield recognized the host organization, saying, “I am a fan of Job Corps. Thank you for what you do.”

Kittrell Job Corps Director Ty Graham said the center ranks high among the 125 Job Corps centers but was already feeling the impact of federal cuts. The capacity of the center has been reduced from 350 to 275.

Reports on Kittrell Job Corps programs were made by Administration Director Joey Fuqua, Career and Technical Training Manager Bryan King and Academics Manager Ebony Talley.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.